What the Best of Christian Press Awards Really Mean

In the Champagne meeting room of the “can’t get much more downtown than this” Novotel Toronto Centre, just a stroll away from the historic Union Station, an unusual awards ceremony unfolded last Friday evening.

Christian Courier Editor-in-Chief Angela Reitsma Bick with Ian Adnams, outgoing president of the Canadian Church press. A Christian Courier story won one of two A.C. Forrest Memorial Awards for excellent in religious journalism at this year's awards.
Christian Courier editor-in-chief Angela Reitsma Bick with Ian Adnams, outgoing president of the Canadian Church Press. A Christian Courier story won one of two A.C. Forrest Memorial Awards for excellence in religious journalism at this year’s awards.

It was the 2014 Best of the Christian Press Awards, the celebratory ending to the two day meeting that proceeded it: a coming together of members of the Canadian Church Press and the Associated Church Press for workshops, networking and business. The gathering was about 100 journalists, writers and editors strong, representing magazines, newspapers and websites throughout North America.

Faith Today was there of course, along with our Canadian peers like The United Church Observer, Presbyterian Record, Mennonite Herald and our American cousins like Sojourners, The Christian Century, and the Catholic Review. And did you know there is a publication called The Alabama Baptist?

The American magazine Unbound won an award for an article entitled: “When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Growing up Asian-American and Adopted in a Southern-White Church.”

And who wouldn’t want to read that intriguing-sounding article? Or other award winners like “From Deformed Leg to National Champion” that appeared in The Mennonite, or “Ebola Vigil Becomes Memorial for Fallen Christian Brother” in The Baptist Standard.

The United Church Observer won an award for a story called “Being There: Stories of Illness and Companionship.” One of their editors won twice for her moving account of a journey through infertility.

As title after title of winning stories or departments were called out (including a few by Faith Today), it became clear that, in all likelihood, these stories of justice, of social activism, of personal pain and triumph shaped by faith, and of shining light in the world’s darkest corners, may not have been told – and certainly not in this particular way – by other more mainstream press outlets.

The unique and rich heritage of faith-based publications was recalled as each award was given out. Stories about missionaries and their sacrifice, stories about generousity and yes, stories about greed. Stories about seminaries overcoming obstacles and the challenges facing the Church in North America and the world. There were clearly stories where publications were reporting on mistakes made by their denominations – stories that called power-holders to account and change. They won awards, as they should.

It was a multi-layered evening. Publications recognized for excellence in writing, editing and lay-out of their work revealing the good, the bad, and the inspiring of the Christian Church in North America.

We will post a complete list of Faith Today prizes, but a few we were especially gratified to receive were: third place for general excellence, and two second place design prizes that were warm nods to our recent make-over. Without our readers, we wouldn’t exist. We thank you!

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